The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

23 November to 23 December

As the days grow cold and the nights draw near, in the heart of Chester Zoo, something magical will appear. So before you turn and think of leaving, take a second look because seeing is believing...

Kick-start your Christmas countdown at Chester Zoo and explore a magical festive wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow!  Give your family precious memories they’ll never forget; encounter new fantastical and colourful worlds, full of animal-inspired illuminations and traditional festive scenes that will leave you with a warm fuzzy-feeling inside.

You’ll be welcomed by a GIANT colourful Garden of Delight before coming face to face with some of our favourite animal lanterns from Christmases gone by!  Meander through Cloud Cuckoo Land and discover stunningly colourful bird lanterns; plus more illuminated worlds revealed along the way including an Enchanted Woodland and a magical Ice Kingdom

Fill up on tasty festive food and see our brand new pub The Oakfield, finishing off the Christmas-card perfect scene.  And remember…keep an eye out for Father Christmas on his sleigh.  He could be just around the corner!  

How to book

Tickets are now available online, and you can also purchase them from Guest Services at the zoo or over the phone by calling 01244 380280.

Book now

We offer flexible pricing to offer the best choice of prices possible.  You’ll notice on our calendar that there are different prices depending on the day of your visit. We recommend booking early to get our best prices as these are subject to change depending on demand. 

Frequently asked questions

Our answers to your frequently asked questions for The Lanterns at Chester Zoo.

How can I book my ticket?

You can book tickets for The Lanterns in a number of ways. You can book them online here, book them over the phone on 01244 380280, or book them in person from Guest Services at the main entrance of the zoo.

What dates are available?

The Lanterns event will be on the following dates in November and December.

  • Friday 23 – Sunday 25 November
  • Friday 30 November – Sunday 2 December
  • Friday 7 – Sunday 9 December
  • Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 December
  • Wednesday 19 – Sunday 23 December

Ticket availability can be viewed on our booking page here.

What are the opening & closing times for this event?

To reduce queuing and alleviate crowds we phase entry to The Lanterns every 15 minutes, when booking you will be able to select your preferred session time, which ranges from 4pm to 7.45pm.  The last entry for The Lanterns is 8pm (for 7:45pm session time stragglers) and last orders for food are at 9pm across the site.

If you're visiting the zoo during the day you'll need to return to the main entrance at 3.30pm, so we recommend booking an earlier session time for The Lanterns to avoid having to wait around. Please ensure you have bought a separate zoo admission ticket, or you have a valid members card.  You can buy your zoo tickets separately here.

Why are there allocated times to arrive?

We’ve refined our time allocation to ensure a smooth flow of traffic at the gates and around the route. Allocated times help avoid huge queues building, so you’ll be able to enjoy the experience without encountering too much crowding.

What's included in the ticket?

Your ticket includes entry to a pre-booked session of The Lanterns. You’ll be invited to explore the zoo after dark as it turns into a magical festive wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow! There will be animal-inspired illuminations and traditional festive scenes throughout the route, taking you from one magical world to the next. The updated route will take approximately 60 minutes and will include animal lanterns, interactive characters, snow and other festive treats along the way!

As part of the event we’re offering a range of festive food for you to enjoy. If you’d like to book your meal in advance just add Festive Feasts to your booking and we’ll arrange the rest. We’ve got vegetarian and children's options too!

What if we want to come as a group?

Visit us with a group of 15 or more and get a 10% discount on admission prices, with the cheapest visitor free of charge! You can take advantage of this offer from Saturday 1 December for allocated time slots 7.15pm, 7.30pm and 7.45pm. Call our groups team for more information and to book tickets on 01244 380280.

Will Father Christmas be there?

Keep your eager eye out for Father Christmas on his wonderful winter sleigh!  He’ll be accompanied by four beautifully lit reindeer characters who will welcome your festive wishes.

How much is it?

Under 3s are FREE, however this is for admission only and doesn't include any food or drinks. Our range of delicious Festive Feasts can be added at the time of booking.  There will be plenty of Christmas food and drinks options that you can buy on the evening too – some stalls may not have the ability to pay by card therefore we recommend you bring cash should you wish to purchase anything on the evening.  We do have a cash machine on site.

If you haven't pre-booked your meals you can buy on the day.  We operate a flexible pricing system to offer you the best choice possible, but please note we recommend booking early as prices can be subject to change.

Day

Date

Adult (18+)

Child (3-17)

Ticket type

Friday

23-Nov

£10

£5

Promo- shoulder

Saturday

24-Nov

£10

£5

Promo- shoulder

Sunday

25-Nov

£10

£5

Promo- shoulder

Friday

30-Nov

£12

£10

Shoulder

Saturday

01-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Sunday

02-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Friday

07-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Saturday

08-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Sunday

09-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Thursday

13-Dec

£12

£10

Shoulder

Friday

14-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Saturday

15-Dec

£17.50

£15

Premium

Sunday

16-Dec

£17.50

£15

Premium

Wednesday

19-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Thursday

20-Dec

£15

£12.50

Peak

Friday

21-Dec

£17.50

£15

Premium

Saturday

22-Dec

£17.50

£15

Premium

Sunday

23-Dec

£17.50

£15

Premium

How will I receive tickets?

If you booked online you will have been emailed a ticket within 24 hours of placing your order.

If you ordered over the telephone tickets will be either sent in e-ticket format or by post (additional cost may apply). Tickets from our Guest Services building will be available for collection at the time of purchase.  Please retain your confirmation email including the barcode as the barcode is required to redeem any purchases you make like meals and buggies.

I'm a member, do I get discounted tickets?

As this is a special event hosted outside of normal zoo opening hours, members and non-members will all be charged the same standard admission price.

Do carers need to buy a ticket?

Visitors with disabilities can admit one accompanying carer free of charge when they pay full adult/child price. (Please select 'carer' when you make your booking).  Please bring relevant proof of entitlement such as a blue badge, or a Personal Independence Payments letter (issued by the DWP benefit office).

How long can I spend at The Lanterns?

We have 15 minute session times slots available for The Lanterns, with admission starting at 4pm.  This enables us to limit queuing to make the experience as special as possible for everyone.

Depending on your speed we’re expecting this year’s new route to take between 60 to 90 minutes to complete (excluding food and rest stops). But you’re welcome to take as many trips around the route as you like, and stay up until the zoo closes at 9pm.

Where do I park?

Please park in the main car park and go to the main entrance. From here we’ll direct you to the admission gates where the magic will begin.

Are there any restrictions?

Some areas of the zoo won’t be open on the evening so we’ll guide you around the lantern route.  For safety reasons we ask that people stick to the route.

What if the weather is bad?

Although there are areas of shelter along the trail this is an outdoor event so wrap up warm and bring waterproofs and sturdy footwear just in case.  If the weather gets really severe we may have to cancel the event.  We will give you as much notice as possible if we do have to make cancellations.  You can see our terms and conditions here.

Will I be able to take photographs?

You are more than welcome to take photographs along the trail. Our photographers will also be on hand so you can take home a special souvenir photo (additional cost applies).

Can I bring my own food?

If you haven’t booked in for one of our delicious Festive Feasts then you can still buy hot food and drink from us during the event.  If you want to bring your own warm drinks or food then you are more than welcome.  Unfortunately alcohol is not permitted to be brought into this event.

What is the best way to get to Chester Zoo?

You can find all the directions and options to the zoo on these pages. You might also want to take a look at our rail combination ticket.